On Friday morning, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Trump Administration announced an agreement had been reached to fix the problems with Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE’s) and reallocating waived ethanol gallons as directed by the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). While many are celebrating an agreement, Iowa Farmers’ Union (IFU) President Aaron Lehman reminds us this is just a step down the path to get us where we already were.
Lehman says the Iowa Farmers Union is happy to see the agreement be reached to fix the bungling of the RFS by the EPA. However, he says this is getting us to a place where we already were. The original goal was supposed to be the future growth of the biofuels industry. We weren’t supposed to be playing catch-up with the past.
Lehman says we have a long way to go to get where we once hoped to be going. Our goal was to use the RFS to grow the industry into higher-level blends of ethanol. However, we can’t get there until we fix the current damage done to the RFS.
Lehman reminds us this is just a proposed rule to follow a law. Yes, you read this right. Let it sink in. The RFS is the law. This proposed “agreement” is just to direct the EPA, an agency of the Federal Government, to follow Federal law. Lehman says there are still enemies of this agreement out there, namely “big oil.” They are going to work just as hard, if not harder to make sure a government agency does not follow Federal law.
This situation has affected the Iowa economy on two fronts. First, the biofuels refiners have either curtailed their production, or they have ceased operations altogether. Iowa leads the nation in the production of ethanol. These actions aren’t hurting just the biofuels companies, it is hurting their employees. It is affecting the economies of the rural communities where these facilities are located.
Then there is the impact on the farmers and producers of the corn and soybeans which go into ethanol and biodiesel. They are already at a time when their markets are depressed, there record stocks of grain on hand, the export markets are filled with uncertainty for lack of trade agreements, and now this is a gash in the domestic demand. This debacle at EPA over the handling of the RFS waivers has had a ripple effect through the rural economy.
IFU President Aaron Lehman reminds everyone that the ball is now beginning to roll on fixing the damage done to the biofuels industry. It is up to all of us to make our voices known during the comment period. We need to tell the Administration and the EPA that this needs to be fixed. We need to follow the law.
The clock is ticking. Farmers cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. This affects everyone. Make your voice heard during the upcoming comment period.